Money For Ambedkar Statue, Not For Wadia Hospital? Bombay HC Pulls Up Uddhav Govt

Law & Order

The Bombay High Court came down heavily on the Maharashtra government for dragging its feet over financial aid to Wadia Hospitals for women & children.

Written By Digital Desk | Mumbai | Updated On:
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The Bombay High Court on Thursday came down heavily on the Maharashtra government for dragging its feet over financial aid to Wadia Hospitals for women and children and said the government has money for statues but not for public health. A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and R I Chagla was hearing a public interest litigation seeking release of grants to Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children and Nowrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the state government. The maternity hospital receives grant from the state government and the children's hospital gets it from the BMC.

READ: On day of protests at Wadia Hospitals, BMC says will pay Rs 20 cr

What did the Court say?

The bench said it was unimpressed with this and that the amount should be released by Friday. "The government wants to build Babasaheb Ambedkar's statue taller than the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue. For all this money is there, but those people whom Ambedkar represented all his life can die?" Justice Dharmadhikari asked. "Do people require medical aid or statues to rid themselves of ailments and diseases?" the court asked. Public health has never been a priority for the government, the bench said, adding that the "chief minister is busy inaugurating bridges".

READ: Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar speaks on Wadia Hospital issue

"We thought there are new faces at the political helm, then all these matters won't come to court. This does not auger well," the court said. The court also said that in a city like Mumbai, which is considered as the country's commercial capital, people from the poorer section of society are refused admission to a charitable hospital.

"This is disgusting. How can people, mainly women and children, be refused admission to a hospital? Children are dying and the state machinery is not doing anything in states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat... should we have the same situation in Maharashtra?" Justice Dharmadhikari said.

READ: Mumbai's Ambedkar memorial plan nears Statue of Unity proportions; Maha Govt adds 100ft

The court said due to lack of funds, hospitals are finding it difficult to cater to the needs of patients. "These patients cannot afford private hospitals as they are mainly from the poor section of society. They require urgent medical attention. In such circumstances, the state government is obliging nobody by making statements that funds have been sanctioned," the court said. The BMC informed the bench that it will release Rs 14 crore for Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children. The court posted the matter for further hearing on Friday, when the government will have to state by when the funds sanctioned will be released. 

The current crisis 

The Wadia Hospital was originally started as a part of a charity to cater to the Wadia Group’s textile workers. It signed an agreement with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the state government in 2010. Thereafter, it became dependent on government funds to a large extent. In late 2019, the BMC reportedly formed a committee to evaluate the affairs of the hospital and found irregularities.  

Subsequently, the hospital stopped receiving funds to sustain its operations. As a result, over 300 patients were discharged by the hospital. Moreover, the hospital staff commenced protests seeking the payment of their pending salaries. MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s wife Sharmila joined the protesters on Monday.  

(with PTI inputs)

READ: Wadia Hospital crisis: CM Uddhav holds meeting, says 'hospital will continue to function'

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